It’s a good time for a makeover, and Ballet Concerto’s new look for its annual summer dance concert is as fresh as they come.
After many years performing this show at the Trinity Park Pavilion on West Seventh Street, where the growth of commercial business has rendered parking even more of a nightmare, the group has moved to a lovely spot in near-west Fort Worth called Heart of the Ranch at Clearfork.
Near the Shops at Clearfork (home to the new Neiman Marcus), this spot offers a gravel-floored clearing in the woods, where Margo Dean’s company has set up a temporary stage for this event. Parking is easy (and free), and hosts in stretch golf carts take guests down a trail to the location.
There are some other changes this year, notably the absence of flamenco dance in the four pieces presented. Flamenco/ballet choreographer Luis Montero is back though, with the world premiere of “The Three-Cornered Hat,” using Manuel de Falla’s ballet music for a work of the same name originally performed by Ballet Russe, and inspired by an 1874 book by Pedro Antonio de Alarcón.
For a title that evokes a triangle, Montero’s ballet is populated by circles, as the corps engages in Maypole-like folk dancing in a Spanish village where a miller (Shea Johnson) and his wife (Melian Izotova) test each other’s loyalty. At one point, the dancers line up so half the line faces those in the other half, and the whole thing rotates like a single blade on a giant electric fan.
Robert Stewart has a ball as the Correjidor, who gets a little too close to the miller’s wife, as does Luiba Paterson as the Correjidor’s wife; and Montero’s crowd work bridges classical ballet and peasant folk dance. It’s a delight.
The “Pas classique hongrois” section of Marius Petipa’s ballet “Raymonda,” staged by Webster Dean, kicks the evening off with charm and some of the best unison work this company — the women in lovely teal tutus — has done. A standout is Izotova’s solo in the sixth variation — she commands the stage for every second, with outstanding technique.
Frequent BC collaborator Bruce Marks makes another summer dance concert appearance with the 1994 two-dancer work “Inscape,” staged by Webster Dean. Shea Johnson and Emily Dixon engage in a fast series of positions, interlocking limbs and torsos, as if depicting a tempestuous relationship between people with a fiery attraction to each other. They match Bela Bartók’s dramatic strings.
Much of the work happens in just a small portion of the stage’s square footage, and the dancers are exquisite. The final position, with Shea holding Dixon in a perpendicular to his body, is a wow moment.
The evening ends with another world premiere from Elise Lavallee, who Ballet Concerto has given a platform as a budding choreographer for several years now. “Ebb and Flow” is her strongest work yet, with striking visuals and fast and angular movements. The music is modern, tech-heavy songs by Alt-J, Bishop Briggs, Mansionair and Son Lux, broken into four movements.
In the first movement (“Hunger of the Pine”), a dancer’s dress expands like a parachute with the others rippling it, recalling similar uses of costume as dance (Jessica Lang, Margie Gillis). Later, two other dancers use long swaths of fabric as choreographed capes.
The third movement highlights David Schrenk Jr., and Mya Bryant in robotic but dancerly movement. On opening night, their body language wasn’t in sync; he moved more stiffly than she did, which looked out of place. Overall, though, “Ebb and Flow” marks a work by a choreographer coming into her own.
With luck, she’ll have another with Ballet Concerto next year, and Heart of the Ranch seems like a great spot for it.